TEHRAN — Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani met at the Royal Saadabad Palace in Tehran on Wednesday, at the start of official visit to Iran.
Hassan Rouhani thanked the Prime Minister for accepting his invitation to visit Iran. “I welcome you to Iran. I wish to felicitate you for those changes that occurred in Armenia through the democratic way. Our deeply-rooted relations have always been friendly, and we want them to be strengthened and developed ahead. Iran wants to have continued good relations with its neighbors, in particular with Armenia. I am convinced that your visit to Iran will contribute to the further strengthening of bilateral political, economic and humanitarian relations.”
Prime Minister Pushinyan thanked President Rouhani for the invitation and a warm welcome: “Iran is close to our country not only in geographical terms, but also in terms of friendly ties, and we have had many occasions to emphasize their importance. Fundamental transformations are taking place in Armenia, which are of internal character and no external power has been involved therein. This is a fundamental point in understanding the essence of the process. I am convinced that new opportunities have emerged in our relations, and we have the necessary political will to implement them,” Nikol Pashinyan noted.
Nikol Pashinyan noted that this is his third visit to Iran: he first visited the country as a journalist, then as an MP, and now as the Prime Minister of Armenia. The Head of Government made a point of the warm attitude enjoyed by the Armenian community in Iran. “It reinforces our friendly attitude towards Iran. We discussed important issues during our private talks, and I hope that during this visit we will be able to find solutions to some of those issues,” the Premier said.
Hassan Rouhani expressed conviction that the two sides’ political will is sufficient for the Armenian-Iranian relations to be strengthened ahead. The interlocutors expressed confidence that Armenia and Iran will not only maintain the current pace of high-level relations, which are based on mutual trust, but will be able to expand them ahead.
In this regard, the Armenian Prime Minister and the Iranian President singled out the construction of the third 400-kV Iran-Armenia power transmission line, which will help the sides increase the amount of electricity and gas exchanged between the two countries by promoting the development of economic relations and regional cooperation in this area. The parties attached importance to the implementation of the Meghri HPP program and agreed to take practical steps in the near future.
The interlocutors agreed that the bilateral trade turnover still falls short of the current high level of political relations. They deemed it necessary to do their utmost in order to boost trade turnover and mutual investments. In this context, Nikol Pashinyan referred to his government’s steps aimed at improving the investment environment.
From the perspective of regional cooperation, the ratification by the respective parliaments of the EAEU-Iran free trade agreement was highlighted on either side. Nikol Pashinyan and Hassan Rouhani expressed conviction that the Agreement will create new opportunities for the furtherance of trade and economic relations between the two countries. They pointed to the expediency of organizing an exhibition-sale of Armenian and Iranian products in Yerevan and Tehran, and holding a business forum after the agreement become effective.
The development of international transport corridors and the Iranian side’s eventual participation in the construction of specific sections of the North-South Road Corridor were considered to be key areas of cooperation between Armenia and Iran.
The leaders of the energy and transport sectors of the two countries gave details on the ongoing discussions on the development of cooperation. Nikol Pashinyan and Hassan Rouhani attached importance to the activities of the Armenian-Iranian intergovernmental commission and agreed to hold the Commission’s next session this summer.
The interlocutors next touched upon the cooperation in the field of agriculture and the possibility of increasing the export of meat products from Armenia. The parties exchanged views on the possibility of expanding cooperation in information technologies, healthcare, including pharmaceuticals, tourism, nature protection and humanitarian spheres.
Stressing that the Armenian-Iranian cooperation promotes regional peace and stability, Nikol Pashinyan said Armenia is highly appreciative of Iran’s balanced position on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Nikol Pashinyan and Hassan Rouhani agreed that a comprehensive and lasting conflict settlement is only possible through peaceful means as brokered by the only internationally recognized entity – the OSCE Minsk Group. The parties availed themselves of the opportunity to exchange views on other regional issues as well.
At the end of the meeting, the leaders of the two countries instructed the relevant government officials to continue holding active discussions in the run-up to the forthcoming intergovernmental commission meeting in a bid to translate them into specific agreements.